Short Sounds: Silent Romanian Documentary

Why Are the Bells Ringing? Funeral documentaries (19141934)

Photo credits: The National Film Archive

silent films, shorts, runtime: 50 minutes
Music: Somnoroase Păsărele

The Funeral of His Majesty King Charles the First
(Victor De Bon, 1914)
The Funeral of King Ferdinand the First (Tudor Posmantir, Nicolae Barbelian, Efitimie Vasilescu, Vasile Gociu, Aurel Petrescu, Constantin Ivanovici, Iosif Bertok, 1927)
The 40-day Memorial Service of the Great King Ferdinand at Curtea de Argeş (Tudor Posmantir, 1927)
National Funeral of the Great Romanian Stefan Ciceo-Pop (Tudor Stan, 1934)
The Memorial Service from Costești (Soremar-Film, 1930)

Seen from the outside, funerals promise a veritable show. “Why Are the Bells Ringing?” is intended as a response to a momentous documentary made by Sergei Loznitsa a few years ago, State Funeral. The Ukrainian filmmaker was concerned with the death of Stalin, the electric surge that had traversed the entire world; for lack of raw material even remotely similar from a quantitative standpoint, the cluster at hand proposes a broader study of funereal events, “of the State” all the same, only in the midst of the monarchy. Carol I, Ștefan Ciceo-Pop, Ferdinand – here are three figureheads whose departure called for a matching farewell. Likewise, the wake at Costești is numbingly solemn; nor could it have been otherwise, as it was arranged unto the remembrance of more than a hundred victims of a Good Friday fire, most of them children.
What was it that Fritz Lang said, that the CinemaScope is only meant for funerals and snakes? He may well have been right, especially considering that the lens of early cameras was simply ineffective before the processions of bigwigs and busybodies. For that very reason the operators would mind their business, allowing the masses to flood the scene, and shoot panoramas calmly when they did. Such mortuary moments are full of performativity by all means; I can’t get Queen Mary out of my head, seemingly ignoring the camera with her diva charm, producing a pompous fan to keep the scorching heat at bay. Before the black veils, the coffins lifted on shoulders, the carriages and military salutes, any other mise-en-scène only seems crude. (Călin Boto)

Gili Mocanu (b. 1971) is a visual artist, poet, musician, alias Somnoroase Păsărele, focused on both improvised sequences starting from live instruments and sampling, approaching specific methods of free-jazz and avant-garde full of arrhythmias and syncopes, controlled or not, obvious in each of his tracks with obscure names. He has multiple musical projects (Hysterical Center, Edif Pilaf, Gili died, etc.) and numerous albums released on important labels abroad: Urubu Tapes (Portugal), obs (Russia), OTA (Portugal), Aubjects (USA) etc. He has been invited to experimental music festivals and events like SIMULTAN Festival (Timișoara, 2011), Dvorak Marathon at Berlin Konzerthaus (2013), In Context (Slanic Moldova, 2018), Mirage Festival (Lyon, 2019) etc.

As a consequence of the contractual requirements imposed by the Romanian Film Centerwe separated the video and the audio sources. The developed automatic system synchronizing the applications used may cause small delays due to your internet provider and devices (desktop, phone etc.).